17. 11 October 1997 (Welsh people and language; Quarto and Folio spellings)

Dear John,


   Thanks for yours. It was good to hear from you, per telephone as well as per post; and I'm most grateful for the book. I've had the great honour of being supposed to be Welsh; and I really took to that tongue when recited or sung by my good friend Susan Dennis, great soprano and Wolf interpreter, and practically a one-woman eisteddfod. She introduced me to the altogether splendid Swansea chorusmaster and baritone lieder-buff John Huw Thomas, whose only known rival is Stephen Jackson (whom I also know rather well). Under John's aegis I've talked and (hopefully) taught a lot throughout the Principality (as I know not everyone calls it), and done my best with the language, though I sometimes wonder what the sea was called before the Romans came. I also admit to a certain difficulty with the name Dines Vawr (who figures largely in some of the best of English verses). My much-admired Elgar (latest piece enclosed) had elements of the Welsh wizard; and so, aptly enough, had Warlock.

   I also enjoyed hearing that Yale was in your good books, so to speak, though it's surely I who should be (and am) thanking you for the affable quotation. It was good, too, to see your firm and its good titles displayed in the TLS. Do you have a catalogue?

   I'm only sorry to be so English as to prefer Southampton to Pembroke. But there; nobody's perfect, as Joe E. Brown memorably observed in Some Like it Hot.

   I'm persevering with Quarto and Folio spellings. Unfortunately. the results seem to be rather too technical (or in plain English, boring) for publication; but at least they seem to me to confirm, rather clearly, that the first Quartos of Richard III and Hamlet were set up from holograph copy.

   I trust you and your family are well and flourishing. Jeremy's had some quite good reviews lately for his direction of the Molnar-based musical Enter the Guardsman, and his translation of The Merry Widow is about to appear at the Royal Opera. As the song (almost) says, we don't get around much any more; the most we can manage is to attend J.'s first nights, like a couple of ageing groupies.

   Best, as ever,